Archive for July, 2006

NREL Records Record Ozone Pollution

July 31, 2006

Readings at the NREL air quality monitoring station peaked at 94 ppb (the standard is 80), the highest ozone reading recorded so far this summer. The NREL station is the closest to Golden, and I don’t know if levels are likely to be higher or lower down in our small valley (are there any air quality experts out there that can answer this?), but it seems like bad news for Golden any way you look at it.

As we continue to violate air quality standards in the Denver area, Denver continues to run the risk of going back into “non-attainment” on ozone pollution, which could have significant repercussions for things like federal transportation dollars (if you think we don’t have enough money to meet our transportation needs now, just wait until we go back into non-attainment).

The sources of this pollution: some mixture of automobiles, oil and gas drilling, agriculture, other industrial emissions, and perhaps other sources as well. One particularly contentious source is oil and gas drilling, especially in the eastern plains counties like Weld. Industry has aggressively argued that they aren’t making a significant contribution, and the Environmental Protection Agency started using infrared cameras to figure it out.

That sparked the ire of Oklahoma Senator Inhofe, who criticized the EPA for using this innovate and improved pollution detection method. It was refreshing to see the Rocky Mountain News editorial yesterday chastising Senator Inhofe for his nonsensical attack:

Who could possibly object to better methods of collecting data on air emissions? The U.S. senator who chairs the committee that handles environmental issues has, and that’s disturbing . . .

After a News story published June 20 revealed that federal environmental regulators were using infrared cameras to view heretofore invisible emissions from gas and oil wells in Adams and Weld counties, Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., fired off a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency demanding an explanation.

Inhofe’s letter said the filming process – which recorded emissions from pipelines, valves and storage tanks – threatened the “trust” between the EPA and the oil and gas industry.

Presumably Senator Inhofe is angry that the EPA is using improved technologies for detecting air pollution because he’s concerned that his oil and gas company supporters might not be able to continue claiming that they have little to do with increasing ozone pollution in Golden and elsewhere in Colorado. Hats off to the Rocky for speaking out.

Incidentally, you can track today’s air pollution levels at the state’s Air Quality Index web site. You can also review the air pollution levels over any specific time period at any monitoring site (including Golden’s).

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5K and 10K Golden Gallop on August 19th

July 26, 2006

I wanted to let everyone know about the Golden Gallop, a 5K and 10K race on August 19th here in Golden organized by some hard-working folks in Mountain Ridge. The race is a fundraiser for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN), a group that funds research on pancreatic cancer and supports families struggling with the disease. The race starts and ends in Lyons Park. The 5K winds through Golden while the 10K also includes a section of single-track trail. More details . . .

You can also make donations to PanCAN directly.

Campaign Finance Complaint Resolved

July 25, 2006

Golden’s campaign finance rules pretty clearly require that you must report any money you spend money attempting to influence a local election. If someone believes that the rules have been violated, they can file a complaint with the city. This kicks off a process that begins with a hearing by the Campaign Finance Board (three people appointed by Council). The board reviews the complaint, hears from the person who filed the complaint and the person who is charged with violating the rules, and tries to reach an amicable resolution. If they are unable to do so and they believe the rules have been violated, they forward the complaint to City Council and ask for the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate and, if appropriate, prosecute the alleged violation.

You may recall that after the last election we saw the first complaint filed under these rules. Dave Ketchum, who served on the Council at the time, filed a complaint charging that Marion Olson had violated the campaign finance rules by failing to report expenses associated with publishing Voice of Golden (which had supported some candidates and opposed others). Ms. Olson failed to show up for the Campaign Finance Board hearing, and failed to show up when the board rescheduled and tried again, so the board recommended that Council hire a special prosecutor. We did, and the prosecutor concluded that Ms. Olson had indeed violated the campaign finance rules. After the court rejected Ms. Olson’s numerous motions for dismissal, Ms. Olson settled with the city, agreeing to file the required reporting of the expenses she incurred in publishing Voice of Golden prior to the November 2005 election.

The rules are intended to ensure that campaign fundraising and campaign spending are transparent. While there are no limits on how much a candidate or a candidate’s supporters can spend, these rules are meant to ensure that the community can see how much money a candidate raises, from whom, and how much money they and others spend to influence the election. If you support open and transparent government, it seems to me, you probably also ought to support open and transparent elections.

Mountain Ridge Berm Update

July 25, 2006

This is an update on the berm from Public Works Director Dan Hartman.  The info is from a few weeks back – I haven’t had a chance to post it – but I think it’s all still accurate.  Dan reports that the new berm was hydromulched about two months ago and seeded with native grasses and wild flowers.  Because CDOT cut off additional truck access (because the route crossed CDOT’s right of way) we haven’t been able to bring in any additional dirt.

A New Bike and Pedestrian Path for Golden

July 5, 2006

Every year the Denver Regional Council of Governments formally adopts a list of priority transportation projects. This list, known as the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), is critical because – for the most part – these are the projects that will get built with state and federal funding.

I’m really pleased to report that the 2007-2012 TIP includes $430,000 for a bike and pedestrian path at the south end of town along I-70. The new trail will create a long-overdue connection to the rest of town.

The decision basically had to do with how much of the available funding we would allocate to alternative transportation projects (bikes, buses, etc.). I and several of my colleagues on the Council of Governments Board of Directors (all elected representative from Denver region local governments) argued for making sure that alternative transportation received a reasonable share of the total dollars. We succeeded, and as a result Golden’s project, as well as a number of other good bike, pedestrian, and transit projects, is on the list.

In addition to creating an important bike and pedestrian connection between the very southern end of Golden and the rest of the community, the project is also a good one because we’ll work closely with Lakewood and Jefferson County to make it happen. I think it’s a good think any time neighboring local governments cooperate on projects that benefit everyone.

Our staff is estimating that we will begin construction in 2008.

Independence Day

July 4, 2006

I went up Arapahoe Pass in the Indian Peaks Wilderness this morning. While holiday weekends make for crowded trails, I love that so many folks celebrate Independence Day by hiking in Colorado’s magnificent wilderness areas and national parks. I also love the Lions Park part of 4th of July as well, and I’ve got no complaints about the BBQs everyone I know seems to be having later this afternoon. Independence Day is about community and family and celebration, and Golden surely rises to the occasion.

I also think Independence Day begs reflection on what it means to live in a free society governed by a constitution that enshrines so many fundamental human rights. I appreciated Bill Winter’s blog post this morning on Daily Kos. Winter – who is running to unseat Tom Tancredo in Colorado’s Sixth Congressional District – quoted from the diary of a soldier killed at the First Battle of Bull Run during the Civil War. Major Sullivan Ballou wrote:

The freedom that I so often take for granted, the government that I occasionally curse, and the rights from which I so richly profit every day, have all been provided to me, at no cost to myself whatsoever, by sacrifices that I cannot begin to imagine, made by men and women that I will never know!

There is no way that I can ever repay that debt except to be prepared to offer that same sacrifice if I am ever called upon to do so!

I can’t help but think of the men and women that are today serving our country in Iraq (and in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the world), risking their lives, and all too often dying. Several weeks ago we passed another horrific milestone in Iraq: 2,500 American military personnel dead. Nearly 20,000 have been wounded, and I haven’t any idea how Iraqi civilians have died. I don’t know what the answer to this quagmire is, but the Bush Administration’s current approach, what blogger georgia10 calls our “stay the course until we drive off a cliff strategy,” ain’t working.

I know there are some who believe that it is unpatriotic even to ask questions about the war in Iraq or the President’s war strategy. I think that’s wrong, and instead believe that it is our obligation as citizens to ask hard questions, to hold our elected representatives accountable to their decisions, and to use democratic and civic processes to fix the things that are broken. In this case, you don’t need to believe that beginning the war was a mistake in order to recognize how abysmal the Bush Administration’s prosecution of the war has been.

I want to honor our soldiers’ sacrifices, and the countless sacrifices of their families at home, and I never want to forget that the values we so cherish and often take for granted must sometimes be defended with blood, but not every war fought in the name of defending America makes sense. I am one of the large and quickly growing chorus of Americans who are insisting that Congress and the Bush Administration figure out how to end this tragic debacle.

Free Irrigation System Evaluations

July 1, 2006

If you had a chance to read the July issue of the Informer, you may have noticed that the City of Golden and the Center for ReSource Conservation are teaming up again to offer free evaluations of residential irrigation system. This is a great way to figure out how well your irrigation system is working and to identify any opportunities to improve performance, water efficiency, and cost savings.

You can schedule your evaluation with Center for ReSource Conservation at 303-441-3278.